Wolfpack fall short of Super League promotion after loss to Broncos
London's defence stymies Toronto attack in low-scoring battle
The Toronto Wolfpack's quest for promotion to the top tier of British rugby league was thwarted Sunday following a 4-2 loss to the London Broncos.
London scrum-half Jarrod Sammut converted penalties in each half and the Broncos' defence stymied the Wolfpack's attack throughout the Million Pound Game at Lamport Stadium in Toronto.
With the win, London earns a spot in Super League next year despite finishing second to Toronto in the Betfred Championship regular season. The Broncos have been outside the top tier since 2014.
"There's some shattered people in there," said Wolfpack director of rugby Brian Noble, referring to the Toronto dressing room.
"It's the first rebuttal, the first hurdle that we've stumbled at. But it can only make us stronger if we treat it in the right way."
Mistakes, near-misses sink Wolfpack
Gareth O'Brien broke the ice for Toronto with a converted penalty in the 56th minute to level the score, but a muffed kickoff from Blake Wallace gave the ball back to the Broncos and led to another shot at goal for Sammut.
O'Brien later missed a long attempt at goal in the 70th minute.
Trailing late, Toronto's Blake Wallace appeared to score two minutes later as he went over the try line in a sea of bodies. Video review, however, confirmed that he was held up as the Broncos defence stepped up again.
Congratulations to the <a href="https://twitter.com/LondonBroncosRL?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@LondonBroncosRL</a> who have earned promotion to the 2019 <a href="https://twitter.com/SuperLeague?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@SuperLeague</a>. Wishing you all the best next year! 🏉 <a href="https://t.co/VIAvWOmqLq">pic.twitter.com/VIAvWOmqLq</a>—@TOwolfpack
It was the last in a series of near-misses for the Wolfpack; Toronto looked to have scored in the first minute after Broncos fullback Alex Walker fumbled a kick near the try line and Toronto captain Josh McCrone went over, but video review ruled that the Wolfpack were offside on the kick.
The crowd thought Wolfpack prop Ashton Sims had scored after he crashed over the line in the 48th minute but video replay ruled he had been held up.
"It's tough to end a season like that because it's not how we've been all year," McCrone said.
"We'll be back next year ... unfortunately from Square 1 again. But that's life."
Thomas Spencer ran over Toronto's Bob Beswick in the final minute, crumpling the Toronto hooker. The Irish international was helped off the pitch several minutes later.
The game is known as the Million Pound Game because that figure — about $1.7 million — is said to be the difference in funding that a Super League club gets over a second-tier Championship side from the Rugby Football League.
In August, Super League clubs voted to scrap the Super 8s Qualifiers with a simple one-up, one down promotion-relegation format.
With files from The Canadian Press